The greatest hope of most living with a heroin addiction, prescription drug addiction, alcoholism or addiction to other illicit substances is that a simple and quick trip to detox will cure them of the addiction and all the ills that go with it. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. A cure does not exist for drug addiction or alcoholism, nor is there any quick fix that will mend the harm done to family relationships, the health of the addicted individual, and the financial issues caused by addiction. Rather, detox is the first step in a long process that addresses the many different aspects of a patient’s life affected by drug and alcohol addiction.
According to the definition provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is designed to help the patient to manage the symptoms of withdrawal while preparing the mind and body to take on the challenges of addiction treatment. Medication prescribed by your physician may be a part of the process in some cases; in other cases, it will not. However, detox alone without the additional treatment provided by psychotherapeutic intervention is not a full treatment in and of itself.
Michael’s House is one of the most well-regarded detox and addiction treatment centers in Southern California.
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Drug Detox Is an All-Important First Step in Drug Addiction Treatment
At a standard detox program, consulting physicians give patients the medical treatment necessary to get through these withdrawal symptoms quickly and safely, and to get them stabilized physically before moving forward with addiction treatment. The withdrawal symptoms that come when patients stop abusing their drug of choice can be psychological or they can be physical. In some cases, they can be debilitating or cause medical complications that are severe or life-threatening. Each drug of addiction brings with it a different range of withdrawal symptoms and the dosage at the time of treatment will make a difference in the severity of those symptoms. In some cases, medications given by your physician are appropriate to treat the cravings or the overall experience of withdrawal symptoms.
The Principles of Managed Withdrawal
According to the National Institutes of Health, withdrawal supervised by consulting physicians is often the best choice for those struggling with heroin addiction, opiate painkiller addiction, alcoholism, and other substance abuse issues for which there are approved treatment medications. Usually taken for the long term, this approach is a bit more drawn out than short-term detox options that don’t utilize medication. Psychological addiction treatment usually begins before the patient is completely drug-free and off his or her detox medication. Those living with a heroin addiction may take a daily dose of methadone or an every-other-day dose of buprenorphine as directed by their physician when they stop taking heroin.
In these cases, during the critical detox period, consulting physicians will focus on stabilization of the patient and finding the right dose that will allow for comfort before slowly beginning the process of lowering the dose until the patient is drug-free. This process can minimize withdrawal symptoms and help the patient to turn their attention to the process of healing from the psychological and emotional issues associated with addiction. Regular check-ins and assessments by consulting physicians should continue throughout any medically managed detox in order to facilitate a more effective “step-down” process.
Tips for Success in Detox
Successfully beating drug addiction starts with being armed with knowledge about what you can expect, what you will need emotionally and physically, and investing yourself in the process of recovery as it unfolds.
- Stay as long as you can. Typically, it is suggested that patients invest as much time as possible into their treatment at an inpatient facility. The more time you build up in sobriety before returning to the stressors of life, the more likely it is that you will be able to effectively handle temptation and avoid relapse after treatment.Prepare to work for it: There is no magic cure or pill that will make the process of stopping use of your drug of choice easy. If you’re ready to put in the work, you’re ready to heal.Open your mind to different options: Medication given by your physician, alternative therapies, 12-step groups, personal counseling – all these things may be a part of your early detox and addiction treatment experience and all of them have the potential to be beneficial.Choose the right style of detox: For some drugs of addiction, an outpatient detox option is available. For some people, this is a good choice when it is combined with ongoing outpatient addiction treatment. For others, an inpatient program that includes both detox and addiction treatment is preferable. Speak with your doctor to learn about the different options before choosing the best one for your circumstance.
- Don’t try an at-home detox: No matter what the drug of choice is, the length of addiction or the dose of the drug taken at time of detox, it is almost never recommended that any patient attempt to abruptly stop taking any drug without the supervision and care of consulting medical professionals. Complications can develop and psychological cravings can be overwhelming without the collaboration of those who specialize in drug addiction treatment. Few last long in detox without relapse when they attempt an at-home detox.
- Follow your doctor’s orders: There’s no cheating in a successful detox. If your doctor tells you to drink lots of water, then drink lots of water. If she says to get lots of rest, then sleep as much as you can. Your doctor will give you a string of tips to help you feel more comfortable as you go through detox, and all of them – even the seemingly insignificant ones –will add up to a much more comfortable experience and, in some cases, can even shorten the length of detox.
- Be nice: The peer support you get from others in detox and addiction treatment can prove invaluable both now, during rehab, and long after you return home. Others in the program may not come from the same background as you do or have the exact same experiences with drugs and alcohol, but the fears, struggles and issues associated with drug and alcohol addiction recovery will be the same. Take advantage of the opportunity to build strong new, positive relationships in recovery.
- Be honest: Open up when speaking with counselors and always, always, always tell the truth, not omitting any details concerning your past drug history or physical health. Every piece of information you share can help you get the most effective treatment possible.
Top Drugs That Require Focused Detox
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there are a handful of drugs that most often require a dedicated detox with the help of consulting physicians, with or without medication. Among them are:
A stimulant, cocaine increases blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, energy and paranoia while decreasing the appetite. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours of stopping use of the drug and can be severe for up to four days. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include issues of sleeplessness or restless sleep, depression, paranoia and lowered energy. Risks include stroke, myocardial and other organ infarction, cardiovascular collapse, violence and suicide. (See: Cocaine Detox Programs)
Alcohol is a sedative that decreases respiration, depresses the CNS system and can cause coma or death. Withdrawal symptoms can start within 24 to 48 hours after alcohol levels drop in the blood and last for up to a week. They can include increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature as well as delirium, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or death. Because alcohol affects almost every organ in the body, co-occurring medical disorders and chronic illness are often a problem as well. (See: Alcohol Detox Treatment)
Heroin is a sedative and an analgesic with effects that include drowsiness, “nodding out” and euphoria. Withdrawal symptoms usually set in within 24 hours of the last dose and last for as long as a week. Patients may experience withdrawal symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, chills, runny nose, teary eyes and yawning. (See: Heroin Detox Facility)
Marijuana is a drug that decreases blood pressure and intraocular pressure, increases heart rate, causes red eyes and dry mouth, and may induce hallucinations at high doses. Withdrawal symptoms begin at a varied rate depending upon amount of use and may last for up to a few months. Withdrawal symptoms can include agitation, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, nausea, problems with focus and concentration, and diarrhea.(See: Marijuana Detoxification)
Detox for Multiple Drugs of Addiction and Alcohol
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more and more patients are seeking detox and addiction treatment for multiple drugs, not just one. It is now a more common occurrence that those in search of addiction help need a multi-pronged treatment plan starting during detox to address the many issues with which they are struggling. About 26 percent of people admitted to drug rehab in 1988 reported multiple substances of abuse including alcohol. By 1996, that number grew to 50 percent.
The most commonly combined substances of abuse? Cocaine and alcohol. In 1996, about 30 percent of those admitted for treatment cited both as their drugs of choice while 12 percent added heroin to the mix, and seven percent combined heroin and cocaine regularly. In most cases, alcohol was one of the primary substances of abuse when two or more concurrent addictions were present.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to multiple substances:
- Tell your consulting medical team. Admitting to only one substance of addiction when you consistently use one more drugs, including alcohol, will not help you get the treatment you need. If you are not sure if one or more drugs qualify as abuse or addiction, share the information just to be sure.
- Agree to a drug test. Drug screenings can reveal your recent drugs of abuse and better assist your consulting physicians and treatment team in helping you heal.
- Let your consulting medical team create a treatment plan. Depending upon the withdrawal symptoms you experience, you may need to prioritize the treatment of one issue over another. Complex interactions can make this a complicated process. The best choice is to trust your doctors, share your concerns, and make sure you fully understand what you need to do to care for yourself as you heal.
- Know that medication may or may not be an option. Don’t bank on your treatment including or not including medication if you are dependent upon multiple substances. Interactions of the two substances may be too much to further complicate by throwing a third drug into the mix. In other cases, it may be necessary. Ask your doctor if you have questions about decisions made concerning your treatment.
Choose a Detox Program at Michael’s House
Call us at Michael’s House today to learn more about our detox and addiction treatment programs.A counselor is standing by to discuss your personal needs for treatment and help you begin the process of walking away from drugs and alcohol forever. If yours is a complicated situation and/or you have fears or concerns about how your detox will proceed or the types of addiction treatment services you may require, ask for a consultation. No matter what you need to heal from drug and alcohol addiction, we can help. Contact us today to get started.
Speak with an Admissions Coordinator 877.345.8494